How to join NHS PrEP Impact Trial: 3,000 more places could be added to study

PrEP Impact trial: Man holding a pill used for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection

NHS England is considering adding 3,000 extra places to its PrEP trial, it was announced on Friday.

The trial’s management group has asked NHS England to increase the number of places on the scheme from 10,000 to 13,000. Over 7,000 people at 139 clinics across the country are already taking part in the survey.

Researchers feel they need more places on the study in order to properly analyse the potential effects of a routine PrEP programme, which NHS England has said it is in support of.

However, a final decision is to be kept under review as spaces on the trial are still available in some parts of the country.

Man holding a pill used for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Debbie Laycock, head of policy at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We welcome NHS England’s proposal to increase the PrEP Impact Trial by an additional 3,000 places, but the decision on this must be made urgently, with places being made available as soon as possible.

“While additional places would certainly be an improvement, it would be just a short fix, and no doubt would still lead to people who are eligible for PrEP being turned away from clinics participating in the trial. This is unacceptable.

“We absolutely must now begin to progress from NHS England and local authorities toward routine commissioning of PrEP on the NHS, to ensure that anyone who could benefit from PrEP is able to access it.”

Taking PrEP is a way for people who do not have HIV, but who are at substantial risk of HIV infection to reduce their risk of acquiring the disease. If taken effectively, it can prevent the spread of HIV.

The trial, first announced in 2016, aims to understand the impact of PrEP on new HIV diagnoses and sexually transmitted infections.

It targets those who are considered to be at high risk of acquiring HIV, including men who have sex with men and trans people.

Two methods of PrEP taking – regularly and so-called ‘event-based dosing’ before a sexual encounter – have been studied in clinical trials, and both have been very effective in preventing HIV spread.

However, a PinkNews investigation in March previously found that many of the major clinics involved in the trial had already closed places following high demand.

HIV campaigners have expressed concern at clinics turning away people who want to participate.

The clinics which are still recruiting participants for the study are not evenly distributed across the country.

Details of how to join the study can be found on the PrEP Impact Trial website.